Romanian Zacuscă

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The origins of zacuscă are Russian, but Romanian recipe is completely different from its “relative”. Mostly a “fall dish” (zacusca is preponderantly prepared in autumn), this Romanian kind of food is categorized as vegetarian as it is made from fresh seasonal vegetables.

The basic ingredients are: onions, bell pepper, aubergines, carrots, tomato juice, tomato puree, vegetable oil, and salt, black peppercorns and bay leaves (to taste). Chilli peppers or other vegetables are optional, according to different tastes. First four ingredients need to be peeled off and chopped, and bell peppers and aubergines pre-cooked (with their skin and seeds removed). Then the effective cooking can start: in one pot, the onions in vegetable oil and, in the second pot, the carrots (slow cook). Once these are soft, the prepared aubergines and peppers can be added.

All are cooked gently and mingled (stirred) regularly, and after 2 hours, the tomato juice and puree are added, as well as bay leaves, salt and peppercorn to taste (stirring repeatedly).

With no preservatives, zacusca is put into jars (jam jars are common over Romanian provinces) and then placed in the oven (temperature: 200 degrees C, time: 30 mins). Carefully removed, zacusca jars are wrapped in newspaper and allowed to cool for a maximum of 3 days in a warm space. After 3 days, zacusca is perfect to eat and will keep its taste for at least 2 years in the unopened jars.

In fact, the recipe can permanently be modified, extra-ingredients being “welcome” (for example: cooked beans, mushrooms or celery). Not difficult to be made, zacusca is a time-consuming food, but the result is exceptionally. This tasteful Romanian dish can be served warm or cold.

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